Category Archives: Health

Kidney Transplant – A Good Match

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In the summer of 2008, my husband Lynton, my daughter Mercy, her boyfriend (now husband) Will, and I planned to attend my nephew’s wedding in Hong Kong. That was the year when China was hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics. The airfares going to Hong Kong from the U.S. were higher than usual because of the people traveled to Beijing through Hong Kong. After searching, I found a Bangkok tour from the U.S. via Hong Kong, and we could stay in Hong Kong at any length of time. It was a deal I couldn’t resist. I had never been to Bangkok, so this would be a bonus for our trip. All we had to do was adding five days to our travel.

I scheduled the tour and stopped by Hong Kong first. We arrived on June 25, 2008 and stayed with my sister Yolanda. Yolanda and her husband Patrick took us sightseeing for two days. Hong Kong decorated the city with the Summer Olympics theme.

After my nephew’s beautiful traditional Chinese wedding, we went on a five-day tour in Bangkok. When the tour was over, we came back to U.S. via Hong Kong. There was a two-hour’s layover.

While we were waiting at the Hong Kong airport, I called Yolanda. To my surprise, there was worrisome news. Yolanda said while we were in Bangkok, one day Patrick went to work on the train as usual. He got on the train but had a feeling he should get off the train in the next station, and he did. As soon as he got off, he felt dizzy and fainted. Upon arriving the Emergency Room and attended by a doctor, he was diagnosed with kidney failure.

My heart was heavy for the worrisome news. Yolanda said they had known about the possibility for quite some time. They were thankful that Patrick got off the train at the next station and was taken to the hospital close to home. Besides, had he fainted on the train, it could have taken longer for Patrick to receive the hospital care.

We came back to the U.S. and I kept close contact with Yolanda. After Patrick received the initial treatment, the doctor put Patrick on routine dialysis at the hospital as outpatient services. He adjusted to the new condition well.

Three years prior to Patrick’s incident, their family migrated to Canada. Patrick and the two children moved to Vancouver, B.C. while Yolanda continued her government job in Hong Kong. To get their Canadian citizenship, they had to live in Canada for three consecutive years. They moved to Canada for two reasons, one was for the two children to get a good college education, the other was for getting better health care services. During the previous three years, Patrick stayed in Vancouver with the two children and went back to Hong Kong four times a year to spend time with Yolanda.

 

 

During the months Patrick received the outpatient dialysis services, he could not go to Vancouver to see his children. He then learned to do the dialysis by himself at home. He only needed to do it every twelve hours. After many months of doing it by himself, he could visit his children in Vancouver. He monitored the timing of the dialysis, so he didn’t have to do it on the plane. Most of the time he stayed in Hong Kong to be close to the hospital.

After assessing the chances and distance between Hong Kong and Canada, as well as Hong Kong and China, he registered in the medical system in China to get a kidney donation. His blood type is O. He could only receive a kidney from a donor with blood type O, whereas people with any blood types could accept blood type O kidney. He had fewer chances to get a kidney of the same blood type. The hospital in China told him that the waiting time was from two to ten years.

The four basic blood types are A, B, AB and O. People with type O blood can give to others with any blood type but can accept only from the ones with type O.

 

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accepted that he had to wait for a long time to get a kidney donation. He quit his job to take care of himself. Yolanda was very supportive. During this time, their children stayed in Vancouver with the family friends to finish school, the daughter finishing high school and the son finishing college.

After six months waiting, Patrick received a phone call from China; let him know that there was a kidney donation for him, and that he had to go right away for the transplant. Yolanda could not go with him without advanced notice to get a leave from her government job. Patrick’s sister went with him, taking the night train to China. Next day, Yolanda took time off from work and joined Patrick. She stayed with him for the ten days while Patrick went through testing, transplant, and observation.

 

When matching organs from deceased donors to patients on the waiting list, many of the factors taken into consideration are the same for all organs. These usually include:

  • Blood type
  • Body size
  • Severity of patient’s medical condition
  • Distance between the donor’s hospital and the patient’s hospital
  • The patient’s waiting time
  • Whether the patient is available (for example, whether the patient can be contacted and has no current infection or other temporary reason that transplant cannot take place)

Depending on the organ, however, some factors become more important. For example, some organs can survive outside the body longer than others. So, the distance between the donor’s hospital and the potential recipient’s hospital must be taken into consideration.

Many kidneys can stay outside the body for 36-48 hours so many more candidates from a wider geographic area can be considered in the kidney matching and allocation process than is the case for hearts or lungs.

https://www.organdonor.gov/about/process/matching.html

 

Apparently, the donor and the Patrick were a Good Match. Patrick’s body showed no sign of rejection of the new kidney. After the ten days, Patrick’s condition stabilized, they went back to Hong Kong to receive the ongoing medical care. He was making good progress slowly but surely. We thank God that it was a miracle for him to get a kidney donation within six months. It was a miracle it was a Good Match of the donor and receiver.

To fast forward the story to 2017, Patrick eventual went back to work part time, and then transitioned to full time. He is now working a combination of a part-time church pastor, and part time Headquarter staff for his church. God is merciful. His loving kindness is with us forever!

 

 

The Sound of Silence

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I can hear raining and singing.

I can hear banging and clanging.

I can hear clapping and slapping.

I can hear giggling and drizzling.

 I can hear chattering and clattering.

I can hear the mumbling and crumbling.

I can hear whistling and nibbling.

I can hear hissing and whizzing.

What can’t I hear?

I can’t hear the sound of silence,

A musical note of rest.

The ringing in my ear

The tinnitus can’t disappear.

At all time, it’s here.

How I miss the sound of silence,

that musical note of rest!

Daily Prompt: Sound

Water Filter

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We moved into a new home thirty years ago. A salesperson convinced us to purchase a Whole House Water Filter System plus the Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System. He presented to us that the purchase came with five years supplies of all the cleaning products. It included laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, bar soaps, and more. He said the five-year supplies would save us the same amount of money for the purchase. He also demonstrated, using our tap water to show the difference of the water with and without the filter. We were impressed, so we made the purchase. It turned out that it was the best value of purchase we have ever made. The supplies did last for five years.

Whenever we travel, we could tell that the water elsewhere is not the same as the water at home. When we go to the restaurants, I could tell if the water served is tap water, or filtered water. Water with more minerals makes my skin and hair dry. My skin and hair like the filtered water at home, and I like to drink the filtered water. When we moved Twenty-five year ago to our current house, we brought the system with us, and had it professionally set up. I have enjoyed the soft water for thirty years.

Daily Prompt: Filter

Gratitude Moments #6

April 3, 2009

I was discharged from the surgery on March 22.  An appointment was made to visit the doctor in two weeks. During these two weeks, I recorded the amount of fluid collected from the drainage into the two bottles. One bottle was getting less and less fluid, but the one with the needle inserted to my left thigh had the same amount of fluid every day. The fluid just didn’t circulate to my upper body. The only outlet was through the drainage.

At the meantime, I had a lot of pain on my left abdomen and left leg. The numbness went from the upper left thigh to below the knee.

The doctor’s instruction was to lay flat and elevate the legs. By doing so, it would help to reduce the swelling. He also asked me to stay “active” as much as I could, so I did little things here and there and walked around the house to keep my left leg awake.

After getting up for an hour or so, my leg’s swelling increased. It was so bad that I couldn’t bend my knee. Our bedroom is upstairs. I wasn’t able to alternate my feet when going up and down. I could only make my right leg do all the work and dragged my straight left leg without bending. When I tried to sit and elevate both legs, only the right leg could move to the elevating position, the left leg needed to be lifted to the position.

During my doctor’s visit, one draining tube was removed. The other one remained because the draining was still active. Two more weeks later, the draining did not decrease, but the doctor removed the second tube anyway. His instruction was to massage the leg to reroute the flow of the fluid.

I was praying all the time and kept a grateful spirit. Many cards, emails of comforting messages made me feel that I was not alone in this trial. Family and friends were by my side, they were literally carrying me through every step of the way. One person sent me an email saying, “You may not know me, but I am praying for you.”

I had never felt so weak physically all my life. There was no complaint about my pain, or my suffering. I was grateful to be alive. Our friend Dr. John Sailhamer was a Bible scholar, fluent in Hebrew and Greek. He wrote many books and Bible commentary. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease the same time I was diagnosed with cancer. He was in the early stage of disease when I went through my bio-chemotherapy. He translated Psalm 1 directly from Hebrew and hand wrote it for me. His kindness touched me so much. I read his translation of Psalm 1 every day, and meditated on one word a day. It gave me the assurance of God’s perfect plan for me.

The doctor gave me six weeks to rest until the third cycle of bio-chemotherapy. During these six weeks, my only job was to get strong enough for the next treatment. I’m blessed with a husband who took good care of me, did all the chores and cooking.

Cee’s Share Your World – 01/09/2017

Questions for this week’s Cee’s Share Your World are not easy ones, but I will try my best to answer them.

1. If you lost a bet and had to dye your hair a color of the rainbow for a week, what color would it be?  

This is a hard question for me. I like my hair as it is. Well, if I lost a bet, then I had to do it. Okay, I would color my hair from dark purple and gradually to a lighter purple at the lower portion. I do have a lot of purple and lavender colors of clothing to match with the hair color.

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2. If you could choose one word to focus on for 2017, what would it be?

My choice of word would be “Optimism.” I am an optimistic person, but the focus would be consistent in all circumstances.

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3. What was one thing you learned last year that you added to your life?

What I learned was to be happy with my “new normal,” not to let the lymphedema (swelling) of my leg keep me from being active.

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4. If life was ‘just a bowl of cherries’… which fruit other than a cherry would you be..?

I would like to be an apple. There are many kinds of apple, and I chose to be a red delicious apple because I like the dark red color and the shape of the apple. 

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Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

My husband’s birthday was last week, but he got a cold. He lost the senses of smell and taste. I’m grateful that it didn’t get any worse. He is getting better. I’m looking forward to this new week because holidays are over; my husband and I are back on our workout routine.

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Cee’s Share Your World January 9, 2017

Daily Prompt – Tempted, Sweet Tooth

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I don’t have a sweet tooth. I can’t even have sweet at night because it keeps me awake. Usually I give all of the desserts to my husband. The only occasion that I have a hard time is party time! I am so tempted by the presentation of the desserts. As I approached the dessert table, I grabbed a plate, inching my steps toward the table. I said to myself, “I’ll just sample them. Just take a little bite of each.” Pretty soon, I had the whole plate (small plate though) of desserts. Guess what? I couldn’t sleep all night! Oh well, it only happens a few times a year!

Daily Prompt: Tempted

Gratitude Moments #5

March 23, 2009

I had blood transfusion on February 18, 2009. It took 1 1/2 hours preparation and 6 hours of transfusion.

After the second cycle of bio-chemo treatment, my body system was really messed up.  The warning of side effects on paper became reality to me. I lost 10 pounds in 7 weeks! It sounded like a commercial!  But nobody wanted my kind of diet plan though.  I lost half of the hair, not quite bald yet.  Two more cycles of bio-chemo would make me bald. I didn’t shave my hair, it fell off gradually, but I was hanging on to every thread of it. At one point, my husband said I looked like a punk!

The worse side effect was my skin because the medication burned my skin.  It was very dry and itchy day and night.  Medications for itching didn’t help.  Sometimes I was awake all night scratching.  I drank constantly to flush out the toxin in my kidney. The burning sensation also didn’t let my legs touch each other, so a sheet was put in between to reduce the irritation.

My surgery was on March 19, 2009.  I went into the surgery room at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.  There were two procedures for this surgery.  They set up for the first procedure, and it took more than 1 hour for the first procedure. Then they had to change the setup for the 2nd procedure, and took more than two hours for the second procedure.  It was 9:00 p.m. when it was done.  I was under full anesthesia the whole time, and woke up at 10:30 pm.

I couldn’t go to sleep, of course, after sleeping for 8 hours.  I was in pain.  There was a patient controlled pain medication button.  The nurse said, “Don’t wait until you’re extremely painful to press the button, when it started to come, press it.” I couldn’t tell time in the dark and kept pressing the button when in pain!  When daylight came, I felt dizzy.  When I ate, I threw up. On top of it, the doctor put a nerve block on my left leg in addition to the full body anesthesia.  So the day after the surgery – Friday, I couldn’t stand up at all because I couldn’t feel my left leg.  The doctor didn’t discharge me on Saturday.

The surgery removed the set of inguinal nodes which was invaded by cancer on the left side of my body. Lymph nodes are for body fluid circulation. The function of inguinal nodes is for the fluid from the lower body to circulate to the upper body; then to the heart, and circulates back to the lower body. Now my inguinal nodes were gone. The fluid that wanted to circle through it would hit a wall. Two draining bottles with the tubes and needles were inserted in the surgical area through incisions to catch the fluid. I was to record the amount of drainage daily to determine when to remove the tubes.

The discharge was delayed by one day because of the dizziness and vomiting. The surgeon said he got everything, the cancer cells were gone; and the CT scan didn’t find anything unexpected. God had mercy on me. I didn’t deserve it, but He spared my life.

I went home to rest for about four weeks before the final two cycles of bio-chemo treatment.
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Daily Prompt: Gone

Gratitude Moments #4

February 17, 2009

The original treatment plan was that I would go through four cycles of bio-chemo treatments, and have a surgery to remove the shrunk tumors, and then have two more cycles of treatments. After the second cycle of in-patient treatment, I did my routine lab work before the third cycle.

I met with the Melanoma doctor and the surgeon. During the meeting, the doctors reviewed the lab result with me. There was minor bad news but major good news.  The lab work showed 20 categories in hematology. Five categories were low.  Blood count was 7.9 with the normal range being 11.5 – 15.0. The lab work also showed 22 categories in chemistry with 4 being low. In addition, I had been running a temperature as high as 102.4 ever since I came home from the hospital on February 1, 2009 (more than two weeks).  I survived on Tylenol.

For the low blood count, I needed 2 units of blood transfusion within the following two weeks (1 unit = I pint or 450 ml). Rich in iron food was my diet but didn’t help fast enough to boost up my blood count.  My temperature was caused by some kind of infection that my body couldn’t fight off.  Antibiotic was prescribed to take care of that.  With low blood count and temperature, I was so weak that I felt there was no life left in me. I knew that I had to be strong to go through the treatment. There was not enough blood to keep my body warm, so I bundled up and walked every day back and forth in the neighborhood. My neighbors couldn’t recognize me.

This was my prayer: “God, you gave me clear indications of which direction to go as far as treatment options.  I listened and followed your direction.  You took my hand and I followed you to near-death with no doubt because your direction was so clear. You’re the God of miracles and I believe in miracles.  Now if it is your will, please carry me back to life.”

Now back to the meeting, the doctors also reviewed CT scan done on February 13. It showed encouraging improvement. The tumors in the lymph nodes had shrunk and were contained, so the cancer cells did not spread.  As a result, instead of having two more cycles of bio-chemo, the doctor now could have surgery to remove the shrunk tumors.  After the surgery, I could rest longer before the final two cycles of bi-chemo. Altogether, I only needed 4 cycles instead of 6 cycles of bio-chemo! What great news!

When I heard the doctor’s plan for me, even though I didn’t have too much energy, I almost jumped up to thank them, but I knew that it was God’s Healing Power.

After the meeting, I was given a longer time to rest, got blood transfusion, tried to get rid of the temperature. The schedule of surgery would depend on my progress.

My family and friends continue to pray, bring food, send me cards and emails. I was wrapped around with love, friendship, and prayer support to keep me going this dark journey.

To be continued……

Gratitude Moments #2

The pre-admission meeting was held at the Melanoma doctor’s office which was a Research Institute. During the meeting, the treatment plan was reviewed. The medication was a cocktail drug of a mixture of five chemo drugs. Each drug had serious side effects and possible liver damage. I had to sign an agreement for the treatment and be responsible of any results – good or bad. Not all the melanoma was treated with such aggressive drugs. This treatment plan was the Institute’s fifteen-year experiment. I went at their fifteenth year of experiment. The Melanoma doctor explained that it required aggressive drugs to treat aggressive and invasive cancer.

The doctor proposed a six-cycle treatment: one week on, three weeks off as one cycle. I would be an in-patient in the hospital for five days, then go home for three week to rest and regain my energy to prepare for the next cycle. Thus it was a six-month full time treatment program.

The surgeon was there at the meeting. He saw my hesitation when I heard that it was six-month full time. He said it was worth to take six months off of my life to take care of it. After a quick assessment in my head, I decided to go with the plan.

The first thing came to my mind was our finance. Year 2008 was the year that great recession hit businesses and housing market. My husband had his business for seventeen years at that time. It was hit badly. I recommended that he went back to school to reinvent himself. He did go during the 2008-2009 school year to study for the CT and MRI licenses. My income was the only income during that year.

After talking with some colleagues, I knew I would get 50% pay for 100 days under the Union contract. With that information, I went to the Human Resources’ office to submit a request for six-month sick leave. The administrative assistant asked if I was a member of the Disaster Leave Bank. I said, “No, I’m not aware of such a program.” She explained that if I donated one sick leave day to the Bank, I would become a member. As a member, I could withdraw 20 days at a time up to 100 days with 50% pay.

I was at awe when I found out that information. With both the Union and Disaster Leave Bank, I could get pay 100% for 100 working days. I had some personal sick leave days to be used. All together would allow me to get pay for six months during my treatment.

“When Gratitude becomes an essential foundation in our lives, Miracles start to appear everywhere.” See the Gratitude quote above.

To be continued……

Remission 5th year anniversary

Today marks the first day of the diagnosis of my melanoma cancer in 2008. It also marks the one-year long of three surgeries, six months of bio-chemo therapy and six weeks of radiation that ended today in 2009.

My gynecologist recommended me to have a  hysterectomy.  It was done on July 31st, 2008.

At 10:00 p.m. on the day of the surgery, my gynecologist came to the hospital room.  “The surgery went well,” he said, “and I wanted to share the pathology results with you.”  I was apprehensive but nodded and kept smiling.  “The pathology results show that you have melanoma.  Melanoma is the most aggressive, invasive, and dangerous cancer.  I have lined up all the referrals for you to be treated by a specialist outside of our medical group,” he added. Read more

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